At the meeting just concluded in Ruka, Finland, the Senior Arctic Officials reviewed and approved many deliverables for the Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi in May 2019 in close consultation with the Permanent Participants. The focus of this meeting was reporting on the work carried out during the Finnish Chairmanship, as well as starting to look forward to the Icelandic Chairmanship. Draft plans were presented for the Icelandic chairmanship, including international scientific symposia on “Plastics in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Region” and on “Cryosphere 2020: Ice, Snow and Water in a Warming World.” The official press release is available here.
In addition to the plenary, there was a special session on Marine Litter and Plastics Pollution, which will be addressed as part of the Icelandic Chairmanship. Many Observer countries and organizations contributed reports on their work related to researching and/or reducing marine litter and marine plastics. IASC’s report included information about Arctic research from many IASC countries, as well as overarching recommendations that:
- These projects are often limited in geographical scope. Beyond these projects, there is a need for baselines in the water column, on the seafloor, and in marine biota. The focus should be on all litter, not just large visible items, but also microplastics. This will require agreement on protocols and intentional selection of monitoring locations to have the largest scientific impact and make the most of international cooperation.
- One concern is research programmes that originate outside the North, and do not provide for wide sharing of resources, training, or results within Northern communities.
You can read the formal IASC Statement here. In addition, the Arctic Council Working Group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment recently drafted a report on marine litter and plastics, which identified the current state of knowledge, knowledge gaps, and called for a regional action plan to reduce impact of marine litter on Arctic environment in the future.
IASC is an Observer and scientific contributor to the Arctic Council. If you are interested in representing IASC at upcoming Arctic meetings, please get in touch with the IASC Secretariat.